Record Labels: When You Make It Impossible For People To Pay You, You Drive Them To Unauthorized Versions

from the this-should-be-obvious dept

There are some things you would think would be obvious to record label execs, but often just don’t seem to make it through their brains. For example, these days, if someone wants to buy your music, they should be able to. Making it impossible to buy music that is available elsewhere is a pretty sure way to drive people to unauthorized versions. Take the following story from Michael Brandvold, a music industry veteran, talking about the ridiculousness of not being able to buy a bunch of albums he wants to buy:

Consumers don?t understand or care about territories, regions, license agreements? the internet broke down those barriers, it is just the world now. The album has been released and I want to buy it. This is what every musician wants, someone who wants to by their music. I am surely not the only person who has encountered this problem, not the only person ready to buy some music, but is told you can?t, we don?t want your money. What do you think that sort of action results in? My guess is the fan then begins to look for any option to get the album, including illegal download. A quick jump to Google and you can locate a download. Hey record labels you are driving them to do it.

Problem is, the labels will never admit that their own actions resulted in unauthorized file sharing. No way, no how. To them file sharing is only the result of one thing and one thing only: failure to enforce copyright laws to as strict a level as possible.

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Comments on “Record Labels: When You Make It Impossible For People To Pay You, You Drive Them To Unauthorized Versions”

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xenomancer (profile) says:

Let's Take a Small Step Back

“obvious to record label execs”

I think we can all agree by now that nothing is obvious to a record label executive. They would likely keel over and die if their minimally functioning brain stems weren’t preprogrammed to make them breath; given its abundance, they’d likely be starved of oxygen while accusing everyone else of taking it for free.

“Problem is, the labels will never admit that their own actions resulted in unauthorized file sharing.”

Ya, they’re stubborn. Then again, admitting fault might improve their revenue, remove the perpetual moral panic they use to up-sell their latest legislation, and generally move society forward. But who wants any part of that?

Digitari says:

Re: Re: Let's Take a Small Step Back

and the only Hookers and blow the Music recording industry do are the ones Charlie Sheen has rejected right????? ( see how easy this is) Some people will NEVER buy, what part of this confuses you? they WONT buy willint notus payus you stupid dickus for it, sorry can’t make it clearer, and I’m also sorry I type faster than you can READ.

If it was easier to get more would pay, do I have to put spaces between the letters so you can sound it out??

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Let's Take a Small Step Back

Yes, I think a lot of people only turn to piracy when they can’t find what they want legitimately. I know I do.

Not all of them, of course, but a substantial number.

And those who just pirate everything are probably the least likely to every buy legitimate product. The real customers are the ones the come to you cash in hand looking for something, and the music industry is often turning them away, although in my experience it happens more with movies.

fiestachickens (profile) says:

I think Michael Brandvold summed it up nicely when he noted, “Consumers don?t understand or care about territories, regions, license agreements? the internet broke down those barriers, it is just the world now.”

I’m curious – does anyone know if the concept of “regions” and “territories” is a contractual obligation that the record labels are under? The reason I ask is that if it is strictly contractual, they should be working to get out of those contracts.

However, if they are simply hoping to continue the enforcement of the status quo, then I see little choice other than they simply do not want to adapt to an ever changing marketplace.

Whether the reasons for those barriers are self imposed or contractual, at this point, is largely meaningless to the customers. If you want to serve your customers better, you need to find ways to meet their demands. Imposing limitations and constraints on them will only encourage them to look somewhere else.

I don’t think this is a “moral failure” on the part of the consumer. If I need a hammer, and I go to Lowes and they “license” me a hammer that I can use exclusively in my house and nowhere else, or I can go to Home Depot and they sell me a hammer that I can use anywhere I want, whenever I want, however I want, which do you think I’ll purchase? It’s fine that Lowes wants to impose whatever restrictions they want on that hammer, but I’m definitely not going to buy it from them. I’ll find an alternative place that will meet my expectation as a consumer.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The regions and territories is a mechanism dreamed up to maximize profits at a time when there was monopoly control of the distribution channel.

You point out the obviousness of how consumers don’t care about regions and territories and the internet breaks these down.

But what doesn’t seem so obvious is that regions and territories actually work! — if you have and maintain a monopoly. You point out that if you don’t like Lowes, then you’ll go to Home Depot. What is not pointed out is that with music, you don’t have a Home Depot alternative. You can buy from Lowes, under their terms, or not buy. Take it or leave it.

If a Home Depot competitor emerges, then a bogyman must be invented to control it. I will expand upon your example of the unlicensed hammers from Home Depot. Lowes will complain bitterly and get new laws on the books. After all, we can’t have just anyone buying unlicensed hammers. Hammers are a destructive and dangerous weapon. You could kill someone with a hammer. A child could drop it on their foot or otherwise hurt themselves. Think of the children! People wanting to buy a hammer must undergo a background check and RIAA approved invasive patdown. The manufacture and distribution of hammers must be licensed, in a way that makes it burdensome or simply infeasible for smaller competitors to enter the market.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

We cannot allow streaming hammers from Netflix unless it is at a high price. People should pay for the convenience, despite the economy of non physical hammers.

Internet radio stations must likewise pay high prices for streaming hammers so as not to threaten our existing broadcast model of “you can have any color you like as long as its black”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Keep dreaming buddy, you just proved the argument. People would just start selling “counterfeit” hammers in the back alleys. Lowes restrictions would fail just as the restrictions on region locks, etc currently does. In that case, Lowes’ needless restrictions drive the market for “counterfeits” thus creating the pirate market. Try again.

fiestachickens (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That’s precisely the point – since there aren’t any useful legal products, a market for counterfeit goods springs up.

However, if Lowes offered the hammers at a reasonable price and without restrictions, consumers would return to Lowes. Instead, by maintaining the same prices as before and adding restrictions to it, consumers see the overall value of the hammer drops.

Thus, they have to choose between a legal, albeit crippled, product, or a counterfeit product that is illegal, albeit fully functional. I’m guessing that after doing the cost benefit analysis, most consumers would elect to go with the counterfeit version.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

What is not pointed out is that with music, you don’t have a Home Depot alternative. You can buy from Lowes, under their terms, or not buy. Take it or leave it.

Slightly off-topic, but a better metaphor would be that there was only one manufacturer of hammers, by law, and that both Lowes and Home Depot have to buy from them, and sell the hammers to the customer with on the manufacturer’s terms.

Tony Martin (profile) says:

Re: Re:

As an ex record company exec (in charge of digital strategy) I can confirm that this frustration continues in-house, too. Territorial release schedules are usually organised to allow the artist to promote the product effectively with live appearances and press etc. They can’t be everywhere at the same time, so the release is staggered across multiple territories, thus maximising exposure that involves the actual artist. It’s frustrating, but it’s one element of promotion that can’t be avoided….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’d think that its not neccessary to withhold a release until it is promoted properly. If people are willing to buy the album before it is promoted, they should be allowed to, and those who wouldn’t otherwise know the album exists until the promotion still get to buy a cool new album that they never heard before the band played in that one concert that one day.

JackHerer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Units and charts

Yes but you have to also remember the other out dated obsessions that record labels have, unit sales and unit based charts. Everything they do is measured in “units” and charts based on those “units”, they don’t want people outside of their promotional push in a particular territory because the number of unit sales and chart position during those periods of promotion is used to measure the success of the promotion. They don’t want you buying 100,000 downloads over 12 months, they want you to buy them during the 4 weeks they are doing their promotion and marketing.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Units and charts

So, like other people here will be asking…why should WE, the customers, buy only when the labels tell us to? So bloody what if Artist A is touring in America and I’m in Ireland and I buy the album before the 4 weeks of promotion and marketing? That only shows that your marketing division is inefficient, slow and useless. A business is supposed to tailor themselves to satisfy their customer demand: the customers do not, I repeat, do not EVER have to tailor themselves to satisfy the business.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

>>It’s frustrating, but it’s one element of promotion that can’t be avoided….

Yes there is an alternative to windowed releases. It is called piracy by people in the industry. Only people in the industry feel constrained by 1970’s marketing models. Consumers around the world don’t feel the constraint and will find other options. New laws and treaties may drive the activity further underground, but will not shut it down.

Industry executives don’t want to give up their old ways. They don’t want to give up the control and massive profits the old system used to generate. And so they continue to drive a large amount of the piracy out there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yah that’s bullshit Tony. That may be the strategy but it obviously doesn’t work. The people that get left out due to the imposed time gate just find it elsewhere. Then when the product is officially released, no one buys it because they already have it and you wonder why. Good music promotes itself by simply being out there. You don’t need the artist shilling for it in another country. But then again, you probably already know that since you said “former” record executive.

Jim says:

Re: Re: Territories

Thanks for suggesting something I hadn’t thought of. I wonder at “can’t be avoided” point. If the product is available before it’s heavily promoted, it would seem to me that the people that are aware that it’s available will buy it without the promotion. I suspect that those people are the true “fans”. For those that are not aware it’s available, so what? What they don’t know won’t hurt the producer. When the promotion does start, they’ll come on board if they’re interested. I guess I’m thinking of all the times a brick and mortar store opens in my neighborhood without fanfare, only to have a Grand Opening with lots of sales and hoopla a month or more later. Works for them, why not movies/CDs?

Franklin G Ryzzo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Territories

This is exactly what I was thinking. Why not release the album globally so the dedicated fans have immediate access all at once, and then promote the album the traditional way with the touring and marketing to get the new fans and the ones that were on the fence? To punish the dedicated people counting down to release by forcing on them an artificial delay just seems petty.

I would think this alternative method would actually give them better data on the effectiveness of their marketing efforts since it would be able to separate the sales from people that would have bought the album regardless from those that needed that extra push marketing and promotion provides.

Someantimalwareguy (profile) says:

Re: Re: time for experiment and comparison of results

As an ex record company exec (in charge of digital strategy) I can confirm that this frustration continues in-house, too. Territorial release schedules are usually organised to allow the artist to promote the product effectively with live appearances and press etc. They can’t be everywhere at the same time, so the release is staggered across multiple territories, thus maximising exposure that involves the actual artist. It’s frustrating, but it’s one element of promotion that can’t be avoided….

Myopic focus on the tried and true from the past effectively eliminates any real potential for trials to see if revenue could be maximized using a world release approach followed by intensive artist followup through touring and strategic appearances.

Couple this with fan buzz and sharing of selected sample tracks and you get the word out at a far superior cost level while allowing the fans to do your in-region foot work ahead of the promotional events. This would spread the buzz for new artists and relive the industry from having to rely so much on established acts, further enhancing overall performance AND PROFITABILITY of the label’s current/future stable of performers.

Why limit your revenue potential by removing viable markets before you even start the cycle in the first place?

Just a thought…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: time for experiment and comparison of results

BUT, BUT, BUT… think of the ‘production companies’…..

Blasphemy… More promotion with less cost and effort…. Inconcievable….

What they really mean is, “If we can’t charge half a million dollars of unnecessarily inflated ‘promotion costs’ to the artists, they might actually ‘recoup’ and then we would have to pay them royalties. This is the way we have always done things, and it’s working for us, and yes we have always been at war with Eastasia, why do you ask?”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“can’t be avoided” exactly means close-mindedness and lack of creative innovation. The fact of the matter is that innovators will win out with disruptive technology when the old players won’t innovate.

Beyond that your statement is somewhat admitting that the artist is second to album profits. Instead of using works to promote or develop an artist, the artist is their to promote the works.

Ron Rezendes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Tony thanks for the insider commentary. It’s refreshing to see some truth about how these things happen and the difficulties the recording companies face from an insider such as yourself without hearing all the crap that the “paytards” assume to be the truth.

It takes some courage to come in here and even admit your previous position, it takes integrity to do it with class.

We may not agree on everything – or anything for that matter, but you have earned my respect for your level headed and honest approach. Thanks!

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Territorial release schedules are usually organised to allow the artist to promote the product effectively with live appearances and press etc.”

Simple solution:

Have a high-priced version available worldwide: say, $20 for the CD and $1.99 for each track. This release is only at the label site directly. Write these high “worldwide prices” into the contracts with the regions. The biggest fans overpay to get it early, making tons of money for the record companies.

As they get to each territory, the “territorial” discounts kick in and the album becomes available in that region on all platforms (local retail, iTunes, Amazon, etc.) and promoted at the discounted promotion price.

Everyone wins!

* Record labels make money on a product that was previously pirated.
* Record labels make even more than before with no middlemen.
* The biggest fans are driven to the company website instead of pirating.
* There’s still no release in the places most people look until the artist comes to town.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You keep missing the point that was made earlier: There is only one band / artist / act, and they cannot be in all places at once.

If you make it globally available, It means that by the time the artist gets into a market (say Asia, example), their product is already old and they are no longer able to get the same amount of media buzz. This is especially true for newer artists who are working hard to get exposure, and to get media time.

Larger well known acts don’t have the same problem, and most of them do have worldwide release on their albums so that there isn’t a big issue.

What you propose would just drive piracy even harder, and the quality of the pirated product would be better, because you know that one or more of the “fans” paying the big money would immediately drop it all in their share folder. At that point, the game is up.

anonymous says:

Re: Re:

and at some point Lowes would lose so much business, that it would collapse. same thing will, hopefully, happen to the emtertainment industries. (the sooner the better, as far as i am concerned.) however, trying to bring common sense into an argument over consumer restriction to getting or using something, is wasted on them and wont change until someone teaches them how to remove their blinkers!

J?rgenteG (profile) says:

This does not only apply for records: think about the redicule the BookPublishers implemented once the eBooks started to take off.
I can’t buy (some) english (Dan Brown) books from Amazon due to regional limitations, where these limitations didn’t exist the prior years.

I have to admit that I downloaded 10 CD’s from an artist due to the fact that I was not allowed to buy a single number from Amazon due to …. regional limitations.

DannyB (profile) says:

Region codes on DVDs

Those region codes never were about piracy. They were about monopoly price gouging in different regions.

Maybe people in Mexico cannot afford to pay as much for 40 cents worth of plastic and cardboard to watch this movie. So it must be released into their region much later so that those who can pay high prices, do pay high prices. But once it is released in Mexico, they must make sure people in the US cannot play DVD’s from Mexico in a US DVD player. (Or substitute other countries as the shoe fits.)

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Think about it from their perspective. The government installs a nice fence with a nice gate and enacts a law that only one label/corporation/entity gets to collect money from people who want to go through the gate.

Well, the label/corporation/entity decides it can make more money by opening more gates. So laws are passed giving exclusive rights to those new gates.

Then it gets the idea that it can get even more money by keeping some gates open and some gates closed, depending on the dates and locations, and charging different entrance fees for each gate.

So when people get tired of waiting at one of the gates and decide to hop the fence, how is that the label/corporation/entity’s fault?

Wait, what was I trying to prove again?!

out_of_the_blue says:

If they don't want your money, you've /still/ no right to the product.

If I recall correctly, “They Made Me A Criminal!” is an old movie. May be less literal here, but you still end up a criminal.

If the record label is stupid, then you shouldn’t even want their products. It’s the only moral sanction that one has.

“What do you think that sort of action [not selling] results in?” — Criminal copyright infringement! Sure, those who want to hear music then feel justified in getting it for free, but they aren’t. “Music industry veterans” should grasp that such arguments are bad for the industry in general: even if available, price may still be an objection for some who can also feel justified in taking it for free. It’s not only a slippery slope, but nearly vertical.

The “music industry” depends /solely/ on copyright. Opinions like this “veteran” undermine the /only/ practical means that leads to anyone getting money, especially big money, for recorded music. — NO ONE YET HAS A WORKING ALTERNATIVE. — I expect the industry to collapse (sooner without yet more legalisms), and NOT rise anew with some magic new mechanism for forcing people to part with money for mere music.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: If they don't want your money, you've /still/ no right to the product.

I know what you’re saying. I mean, if you’re told that you can only ride the bus if you stay at the back of the bus, and you don’t want to ride in the back of the bus, but in one of the better seats, then you shouldn’t even want to be in the bus. The only moral sanction one has is not to ride the bus at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: If they don't want your money, you've /still/ no right to the product.

Would it kill you and the other ACs to give proper analogies? Or better said, reasonable ones.

If you want to buy his house and he doesn’t want to sell and you did just take it, that’d be theft. Pure and simple. In the eyes of the law. (You know, the same law that ends with the Supreme Court, the same court that ruled COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS NOT THEFT, EMPHASIS ON “NOT”. Thus making it the “law of the land”.)

However, if you wanted to COPY his house, that’d be okay. Take pictures of it, have an architect/engineer make a blueprint from said pictures and then contract someone to make an EXACT COPY, there’d be no problem.

Heck, if we had a Star Trek-like replicator device that let you copy his house exactly, down to whatever may be inside, that’d be great. He’d still have his home and you’d have yours. (And then on top of that, we could make copies of said house to provide for those without a home, so that’d be an even bigger benefit to society/mankind as a whole.) Of course, you’d probably argue that that would be freeloading and they deserve nothing and we shouldn’t be decent to our fellow man. But that’s your hang up.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 If they don't want your money, you've /still/ no right to the product.

“Would it kill you and the other ACs to give proper analogies? Or better said, reasonable ones.”

No, because doing so would involve them actually understanding the issues at hand, which they refuse to do because it would require actually addressing peoples arguments instead of easy strawmen. They’re far too lazy for that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 If they don't want your money, you've /still/ no right to the product.

“Response 2: Last I checked, I couldn’t easily make a copy of your house, so I don’t get your point.”

Which is exactly my point. In your rush to make a comparison you DID NOT stop and think. Thus you don’t get it. You are the one making a bad analogy. You can’t pause and think for a second and realize YOUR analogy is terrible and doesn’t compare (even remotely).

You’re analogy was “you won’t sell me your house, so I’m going to take it”, which I pointed out would be theft.

I know you want to vilify downloading/copying, but it’s different in that nothing is being taken. The original is still there. No one has been deprived. A copy has been made. Get it?

But my other point was (go ahead and think outside the box for a moment) IF it was possible to copy his house, it’d be okay. As long as you are NOT taking his house (thus depriving him of it).

Read it slowly, my entire comment, and think it over. Let go of any bias you may hold. You’ll see I’m speaking logically. My morals are not coming into play at all. Try and do the same.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If they don't want your money, you've /still/ no right to the product.

The part you and the labels appear to be glossing over is that it’s irrelevant if they’re justified or not in getting it for free.

“should grasp that such arguments are bad for the industry in general: even if available, price may still be an objection for some who can also feel justified in taking it for free. It’s not only a slippery slope, but nearly vertical.”

This makes no sense what-so-ever. Not only is ‘slippery slope’ a logical fallacy on its face you haven’t even established a trend that even establishes the first point in the fallacy. You just gloss over how it’s bad or how it will lead to something that is worse by just assuming it does and then claiming ‘slippery slope’ which is, again, a logical fallacy anyway.

“The “music industry” depends /solely/ on copyright. Opinions like this “veteran” undermine the /only/ practical means that leads to anyone getting money, especially big money, for recorded music.”

What does this have to do with the actual quote? This veteran isn’t suggesting that copyright be abandoned they’re suggesting that region locking be abandoned and the record labels make a better effort to service markets where there is obvious demand with legal options. You’re not honestly suggesting that region locking is ‘the only practical means that leads to anyone getting money’ are you?

Honestly your point itself not only does not address the subject at hand it doesn’t even stand, if copyright was the only way to make money then no one would ever make money off of content that was not protected by content but that is demonstrably false.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If they don't want your money, you've /still/ no right to the product.

Oh, OotB, I find you hilarious. No one has perfected double speak quite like you have. Every time you post it sounds like you are arguing with yourself.

By the way, people do have “the right” to any content they would like, at least in the United States. If we lived in a true democracy then when the majority of people were downloading content (as the industry claims) by default we would have decided that it was our right.

Unfortunately for us, we live in a representative democracy and our current representatives have decided that this is a government for the corporations by the corporations. Unfortunately for the representatives, they have not yet modified our constitution and if things like Occupy Wall Street are any indication they won’t have an opportunity to modify it any time soon.

DocM@sta says:

Re: If they don't want your money, you've /still/ no right to the product.

Do we drive thoroughbred horses to work every day?? no… why??? because industry and economy and people changed. The automobile was created…

Okay… point taken from the standpoint of copy-written ownership of idea’s and creativity and expression is the only way that record companies truly draw profitable return from business. That concept is hundreds of years old and has had it’s place in government law for centuries. Yet it can and should only go so far… when u draw a painting… and copywrite it… can u sue everyone who puts the expressive picture up on the internet for their own expression as well? no… because you CAN’T control it.

When it comes down to what makes the human condition tick, you can NEVER truly own an idea or expression of creativity. It’s ignorant and naive to think that you can… and downright stupid. This was bound to happen w/ the leaps and bounds in the technology advancement of data transfer and internet port cards and fiber optic server backbones… um, duh???? Record companies are strategising this ALLLLLLLLLL wrong

In the past, we’ll say 70’s-late 90’s/early 2000’s artists and record industry executives were capitalist white collar upper class asses, because they were rolling in bags of cash. These industry corporations made millions out of manipulating artistic expression to a GLUTENOUS extent… while other industry and people at lower class jobs suffered while trying to break their backs putting food on their families tables.

***its time for the record/movie industry fat cats to wake up
and join the rest of corporate America and have to
ADAPT to make their products viable for the needs of
an ever growing and changing society of technology.***

Do millions of people with artistic expression around the world who write books or make paintings or create fascinating plot driven narratives in fiction/science fiction/drama make as much money as the MPAA/RCAA and all interconnected clientele, artists, executives, and everyone else within them? Have they…. ever?

*Music industry business is starting to balance
out to profit margins more reflecting of other
creative based business. It’s starting to level out.

Now… lets forget for a second about copy write laws…. look at the legal SYSTEM that enforces them… it’s not caught up to the technology *world* JUST like the record industry. It is bound by the very principles it is based on from dictating world law, but technology by the very principles it is based on reach the furthest ends of the earth.

So… why rely on it??????? DON’T!

business in it’s most basic essence is two things.. SUPPLY and *DEMAND* well guess what… times have changed and the consumer has changed… aka the DEMAND has changed…

* Do you think when Intel design’s a brand new cpu architecture that out performs AMD’s leading chip socket processor at a cheaper price point that AMD sit’s around and cry’s about it? No, they go back to the drawing board and shorten nm chip size and clock speed and voltage rating

* When Microsoft had a monopoly on the entire fricken computer universe, did Apple sit around and wait for the supreme court @ the top of the judicial system to selectively order it into separate smaller organizations? No, it upgraded it’s hardware manufacturing standards, and improved on I0s and adapted to be revolutionary

* When NO ONE wanted the phone book anymore, what did all phonebooks across the nation do?? Updated residential standards to fit technological changes. Improvised new server websites and uploaded all residential listings because guess what technology CHANGED.

It’s the record industries fault… they are just crying because they don’t make billions now and don’t know how to adapt to their customers needs.

Anything worth having takes work. Record industries fail at trying to keep their business standards because they never had to truly work before, it was always easy money for them.

First rule of business and sales is that you KNOW YOU’RE CUSTOMER and know you’re demographics interests and want’s and how they change.

The internet… and business across the face of the planet, expression, communication, idea’s, humanity…. is all growing vastly more ubiquitous every second of every day… when IT won’t change… YOU must change. Which is why we don’t drive thoroughbred horses to work every day…

another mouse says:

Like a lot of people I have a similar problem, however for some of the bands I listen to it isn’t even a case of the music rights being licensed to different companies in different countries – the music just plain isn’t licensed outside it’s home country *at all*, and there are no plans to license it in such a manner.

Arguments about licensing deals fall flat at that point – I want to buy the music, it is released, but it is not released, licensed or made available outside it’s home country, and no music distributor will take it and distribute it outside it’s home country.

So I have two options: Buy CDs for 4-12 week delivery (in some cases only), or download through not-always licit means. And in some cases, I can’t even buy the CDs online as they are only available for purchase and delivery within the originating country – there is no option at all for International sales and delivery.

For one band I like, literally the only way I could actually *pay* for their music was to physically travel to their home country and buy the CDs from a music store. There were no online purchase options available to me in any form.

The industry is in a parlous state when I say “HAVE LOTS OF MY MONEY!” and the record labels goes “NO THANKS”.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Essentially the cost of distribution without all the artificial nuttiness of licensing, regions, and what not should determine the price. With the internet, the product costs the same to distribute anywhere in the world. Why should the price be $2.35 in Australia and $1.19 in Mexico for the same product?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“What are the solutions to this?”

Build a business model that doesn’t depend on restricting and gouging a certain region. Otherwise, accept that your product is worth what the market says it is, not what your accountants want it to be. Work on an actual market basis rather than an artificially created system that causes piracy to be an attractive option.

jilocasin (profile) says:

Been there done that....

I remember many years ago trying to purchase the new album from a European band. Even though they had videos from the album in the top 10 of MTV Europe (yea, back when MTV actually played music and I actually paid for television). Even though the entire album was available for download through less than legal means and was talked about not only on the band’s own website but elsewhere. Every music store that I approached (O.K. you can stop laughing, I told you this was a few years ago) not only wouldn’t sell me this album, but insisted that no such album existed. One went so far as to accuse me of making it up.

Searched, no such album exists., yep. Amazon’s French, Italian, German sites, yep there it is. I ended up buying it from their U.K. site. British English is still closer to the American variety than Italian, French, or German. Even with the unfavorable exchange rate of U.S. dollars to British pounds and shipping it still ended up costing, within a few cents, of what it would have cost to buy it locally.

Moral or the story, customers are willing to pay for it if you are willing to sell it (all other things being reasonable of course). The difference between and is two characters. That’s what customers think of territories/regions/and other artificial barriers to trade.

Just my $0.02

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Been there done that....

Speaking of Amazon…I’m in Ireland and own a Kindle. I’m on my second one now. The first one I bought, I looked online and thought to myself “Well, I’ve bought tons of stuff from Amazon UK, they’ll deliver”…only to be told the complete opposite. I had to order from the US Amazon, and pay an import fee. I bought my second Kindle at a computer store chain, and my local Tesco supermarket (the British equivalent of Walmart) is now selling them. However, I can’t go online to Amazon UK and order one for Ireland. Nor can I purchase UK e-books…even though I can hop on a boat, be in Wales in about a couple of hours and buy any book I want in any Welsh bookshop.

Anonymous Coward says:

This message was not approved by Major League Baseball!!

It’s not just the record industry thinking this way either. blackout zones disallowing fans from watching nearby teams, like the Cincinnati Ohio ball club fans in Raleigh North Carolina.
Blackout seems reasonable, just a short flight in a Lear jet right? a one hour trip, quick limo rental, box seats, limo back home, no reason at all to think blackout ranges are unreasonable. Go Team!

Anonymous Marcus says:

Re: This message was not approved by Major League Baseball!!

This is the first year that I’ve watched baseball in 20 years. I didn’t actually know anything about the restrictions until I started watching 3/4 of the way through the season. I found out about them and they are absolutely retarded. I’m not even sure what it is they want me to buy in exchange for blacking them out.

Haywood (profile) says:

Re: Re: This message was not approved by Major League Baseball!!

On the plus side; it is a step toward irrelevance. The Sports syndicates, pro & even college, are getting so protective of their content, it will happen some day, hopefully soon, that they can’t draw a crowd to watch, even for free. No one will care what they do, when, or where they do it.

alex (profile) says:

Can we please fix this...

“Problem is, the labels will never admit that their own actions resulted in unauthorized file sharing. No way, no how. To them file sharing is only the result of one thing and one thing only: failure to enforce copyright laws to as strict a level as possible.”

Sorry Mike, I know I’ve made this point on here before but it’s really not OK to suggest that all record labels are the same based on the actions of 4 of them. It’s the same as saying all journalists share the same values and behaviours as News Corp.

Techdirt is one of my favourite blogs and I feel bad that I usually only post when I don’t agree with something, but as someone who works in the music industry, this is the one repeated thing that I read on here that winds me up – because I know lots and lots of labels to whom this simply doesn’t apply.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Can we please fix this...

because I know lots and lots of labels to whom this simply doesn’t apply

Unfortunately, those labels have control over less than 1% of all recordings ever produced. I’m not trying to be mean or argue with any of your points, I’m just acknowledging the fact that Mike generalizing about the big 4 is applicable to the vast majority of music that most people consume.

alex (profile) says:

Re: Re: Can we please fix this...

Over 99% of music ever recorded is controlled by the majors? Where did you get that figure from? I’m sure that’s not right.

The label from the quoted blog post, for example, does not appear to be a sublabel of a major, which kind of makes the point.

How can you assume that the people that run that label won’t admit their mistakes and only want stricter levels of copyright enforcement?!

Anonymous Coward says:

Wow, can we please lay the blame where it really belongs:

“I don?t want to buy the cd and pay for shipping and wait, I want the music now and I want to pay for it.”

I want the music NOW. Spoiled child goes to piracy because he is unable to wait.

If the music was made available in the US (and priced to cover the costs to make it so), he would bitch about the price and go to piracy to get it.

If the music labels lowered the price and took a loss on every unit sold in the US, he would bitch that the download places are too complex, and would go to piracy.

If the music was delivered to his door for free, on a USB key, all ready for his enjoyment, he would bitch that it’s only a 1G USB key. He would throw it away and go to piracy to get the music.

I don’t fall for the bullshit here. The guy is unable or unwilling to accept that his obscure music choices mean that it may be harder to get what he wants. Spoiled child.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What I really don’t buy is music anymore aside from that, I don’t know why I should pay anything for music that I can record from radio stations or why it should even be illegal to have the same music that I can get free from the radio declared illegal if it is acquired any other way.

What you want people to jump 3 times, do the jig and say “pretty please” before you allow them to hear music?

fiestachickens (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So to clarify, what you’re saying is that when the customer asks for something, we should respond by calling them a “spoiled child”?

Manufacturer: “We only have the car in black”
Consumer: “But I want it in red”
Manufacturer: “You know what? No. You’re a spoiled brat”

Or did I miss something?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, you missed something:

Manufacture: “we only sell cars in Russia”
Consumer: “I want this car now, today, in New York… in red”.
Manufacture: “we only sell in Russia”
Consumer: “You suck at meeting customer demands, I am going to get someone to steal one and send it to me!”

fiestachickens (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Still not a great analogy – in this case I could pay someone to get me the car and ship it to me, all quite legally.

However, with IP, they often try to restrict people from getting access to these goods period.

So no, I don’t think the person is being a spoiled child as they have a legitimate method to retrieve the car that they wanted in the first point – they would just need to pay for it. And it would be exactly what they wanted.

In the situation we’re discussing, the root problem is that there are no ways to get exactly what you want, even if you are willing to pay for it.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Good analogy until the final act of idiocy. No, no matter how much you wish it was, copying a digital file is in no way the same as stealing a car.

On top of that, you managed to exactly identify one of the problems. In your analogy, the Russian car company in no way lost anything by the consumer “stealing” the car. Someone in the US might have done, but the Russian company didn’t lose anything, because they had nothing to gain to begin with.

They refused the sale, purely and simply. Whatever happened after that does not affect that fact, and the Russians have nobody to blame but themselves for refusing the potential profits.

hobo says:

Re: Re:

You actually make a good point and a bad one. First the good, there are some people for which you can do no right. If they are going to pirate no matter what, why are you chasing them? You did not lose a sale because of them, they will never buy. Let it go.

Now the bad. Following the link to the whole story the guy says that iTunes in Europe and Canada have albums that iTunes US does not have. It shouldn’t matter how obscure an artist or album is, if iTunes has made it available it should be available in iTunes everywhere. That is the point.

I would go further and say that availability and convenience are the key and that everyone involved in the industry should be trying to make more music available and convenient. Not just within a particular internet company or software suite, but across various platforms and gates.

In this particular example, however, it is all Apple. If Apple has access to a particular album, and has converted it and made it available anywhere, it is ready to be available everywhere. The only restriction is the artificial one put in place by either Apple itself, the controlling record company, or both.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Now the bad. Following the link to the whole story the guy says that iTunes in Europe and Canada have albums that iTunes US does not have. It shouldn’t matter how obscure an artist or album is, if iTunes has made it available it should be available in iTunes everywhere. That is the point.”

Sadly, if the music isn’t released in the US, has no US distributor, and nobody is paying for those rights, the artist or the artist’s own label may not allow it. Their desire to sign a distribution deal, example, may make it cost prohibitive for anyone to pick them up, which in turn makes that Itunes can’t sell it in the US.

The physical ability to turn something into a digital file doesn’t suddenly mean that it’s okay to sell in every market. Even with the EU and all that comes with it, it is incredibly hard to do business in all of those countries without having local representation.

We also still have to deal with all of the restrictions that exist, and the liablity created by each sale. What happens if the content, which is legal in say Sweden, is in fact illegal in the US (which is why there is no distribution deal)? An example might be a men’s magazine, where in some places you could show the naked breasts of a 16 year old girl, but you cannot legally sell or distribute that in the US. If a theoretical “IMags” (Itunes for magazines) had it online for sale in Sweden, would it be acceptable to you to be able to buy it in the US? Who’s laws would apply?

What you suggest sounds so simple in theory, but is much more difficult in practical application.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Your analogy fails entirely, because the theoretical IMags is dealing in content that is actually ILLEGAL. You’re nibbling on the edges of crying “Child porn” just like the major record labels do all the time.
This article is talking about the difficulties legitimate customers have with purchasing music that they know exists and that they want to pay for. The music is legal (how can a piece of music be illegal? Sure, maybe the lyrics can, in a sense…)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Rikou, it isn’t illegal where it comes from.

CP is a simple case. But what about packaging requirements, legal agreements, liablity, and such? What about publishing rights, about ownership, and perhaps copyright that is not viewed as important in country A but is significant in the US? What happens is the song is found to be infringing in the US, but since the band never published it in the US and there is no distributor, there is nobody to go after?

What if it is software? What if it is defective? What if it is not available in a legally required language?

Like it or not, every time a product of any sort comes into a new market, it is subject to all sorts of rules, big and small, that must be considered. It’s why there are distributors in each country, so that all the details are taken care of. Just having the content in a digital format does not make it legal or correct to be sold in another country.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

This article is talking about MUSIC, not child porn. Yes, your theoretical iMag would have issues over different countries having different definitions of what is child porn…but this is MUSIC. Same thing goes with you bringing up software…again, this article is about music, not software. And a legally required language? I have to ask you to explain that one to me. I can understand maybe a government body contracting out programming work to somebody and saying “We want you to code it in language XYZ” but how can a coding language be illegal?
As for your last paragraph there…that’s true for physical products. When you consider that the world is now online, and we have payment processors that span the globe (think Paypal) musicians really have no excuse for saying “No, you’re a dirty foreigner, you don’t get to have my music!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Rikou, music still has the same issues, but on a different scale.

Example, a song from the UK called “Pack of Fags” might be perfectly legal and socially acceptable in the UK (because many people like to smoke), but might raise a legal ruckus in the US because gay people might think of it as insulting. Who’s legal system do you use to address the issue?

What happens if a song in Russia uses samples from a song that is not copyright there, but is copyright in the US? If you sell it in the US, do you first have to clear the samples here and pay the license?

What happens in a country where by law, the packaging must be in the local language? Can you see a physical product from another country via direct online marketing without violating those laws?

There is so much more in play than just moving around 1s and 0s.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

If the internet trumps international boundaries, perhaps instead of beating up the internet to make it fit our borders, we reconsider how important those borders are.

Fortifying borders leads to war, and sharing culture across borders is how we learn to respect and sympathize with others. The best thing about the internet is it’s forcing us to think globally and work together as a single planet, and government everywhere are trying to keep the status quo and stifle the freedom to share, communicate, and associate the internet gives us. Will bad things happen? Definitely, but a multitude of great and wonderful things can happen as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

In the case of your ‘spoiled child’ customer the blame clearly lies with the label. They’re changing the way they deal with actual legitimate customers based on the actions of someone that’s obviously never going to be a customer because they always come up with an excuse to infringe instead of buy. How does it make any sense at all for the label to respond or change because of someone like that? They’re out nothing because there is nothing there to gain. What the label should be doing instead of changing to accommodate more legitimate customers, they should be focusing on the people who would stop infringing activity if there were attractive alternatives. The real ‘spoiled child’ in your scenario in the end is the label because their reaction to someone crossing them is to take it out on everyone else, like a petulant brat.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Wow, can we please lay the blame where it really belongs

We are placing the blame where it really belongs – on the labels.

You have a product, people want to buy your product, you won’t sell them your product. That isn’t business, it’s insanity.

I’m gonna say this slow so that even a retard like you can understand it.

The …… customer …… is …… always …… right ……. even when they’re wrong.

I couldn’t imagine any retail operation staying in business for more than 5 minutes if they tried to operate anything like the record labels. “I’m sorry you can’t buy our new fall line at this Walmart, you can only buy from the Walmart on the other side of town, but we check your drivers license to make sure you live on that side of town. But don’t worry, in like 4 or 5 years we’ll get that line of clothes and we’ll only charge you about 3 times the current price. Isn’t that EXCITING!!!”

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

The old model made sense when your ordered up 100,000 plastic discs and shipped them out to stores. Stores don’t want them in their inventory for very long, so the plan was set a release date and promote it, hoping to clear out most of the inventory in a month.

That has nothing to do with online. Cracks me up when I get an email from a band saying their album will be available on such and such date. Who cares? When it’s available, let me know and I’ll buy it. I’m not going to sit around with baited breath waiting for your precious CD. Release the music, then promote it.

The only other reason to promote a release date is the hope that enough people will buy it that first week to get the music on some sort of sales chart, which is its own self-fulfilling mechanism, since anything on the chart generates more press which generates more sales which moves it up the chart. That seems to be how pop music works, since the press needs some copy to go along with the full page photos of the model/singers and chart position is easy reporting.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Too true. I grew up in the MTV generation, and before I was even eight years old, I could tell the “Top 10” charts were being manipulated. People always wanted what was popular, so if the labels say that Song XYZ is at number 1 at the charts, that would make more people rush out to buy the song, thus creating a self-fulfilling #1.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yep, and that’s why we get weekly reporting on Hollywood box office, and I know people that will go see a movie just because it’s #1 no matter how crappy it is, and avoid a movie that doesn’t do well right out of the gate. Many people aren’t willing to decide good and bad themselves, esp when mass media tells them otherwise.

That’s what the RIAA and MPAA figured out a long time ago… that they could use mass media to generate sales, and they could monopolize the business because it costs a lot of money (more than the product itself) to utilize mass media.

The internet doesn’t work for mass media – it’s mass communication – and internet buzz can kill their movie despite their marketing strategy, and file sharing can spoil their staggered release date strategies.

Where does this leave them? Without a clue about how to maximize profits, and so tangled up in multi-national contracts and multi-media releases that they couldn’t innovate if they wanted to. I’m sure some music labels still don’t have digital rights to release some music, even when they make it available on disc.

So their hands are tied, they can’t serve their customers, and the customer routes around them because they just want to hear a song and they could care less if the label doesn’t have a deal to sell the music or release the film in whatever country they live in.

And that’s all this is about – people just wanting to listen to a song. How did that end up becoming a criminal activity? Why are we even having to discuss this? It’s ridiculous.

Coasty (profile) says:

Gee, I wonder if some time in the next 5 years I might see a digital re-release of Ferrante & Teichert albums I can legally purchase because of Mr. Brandvoid’s comments? I’ve only been waiting for over 20 years for that to happen!

Of course, in the mean time I’ve already gotten every single song they ever recorded, all illegally downloaded because EMI (plus several other record label companies) very politely told me to get lost the multiple times I tried to purchase them. The original LP’s were burned up in a fire, I didn’t want to replace them that way, but I was left with no choice.

So, yeah, I’m one of those unhappy, unsatisfied, customers Mr. Brandvoid was referring to.

I’ve always wondered how many other people, like me, were in the same situation, it’s gotta be millions!!!

PaulT (profile) says:

Sadly, I’ve been saying this for over a decade, but it’s true.

As I type this message, I’m sat in New York wasting time till my flight back home to Spain. It’s been an awesome week, and part of that is seeing some of the services available. I’ve been taking full advantage of Hulu, and Pandora, and I’ve been able to listen to a lot of music and watch movies/TV shows I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. It’s been great, I didn’t mind sitting through the ads and I’d sign up for Hulu Plus in an instant just for the Criterion collection.

Alas, I’m not permitted to. After my flight leaves tonight, I’m going to be sitting on the wrong patch of dirt again. Access to content I want will dry up, and my access to these legal services will be replaced by… nothing. No legal streaming and discovery services other than Spotify, and even that has serious holes in its catalogue (although I happily pay for what’s offered).

As ever, I’m not defending piracy (before the usual morons launch their attacks), but it’s easy to see why this is one of the factors that lead to it. They might pretend it’s “selfish” or “entitled” to want such content, but it certainly is difficult to know that one part of the globe is able to access a whole other level of services. That you’re not allowed to access because a border that’s technically irrelevant online is being enforced in a misguided effort to make profit.

As ever, I’ll just repeat: my money is waiting for these services whenever they’re offered to me. Just don’t pretend that it’s “lost” due to “piracy” because you refuse me access.

Mr. Roy Pierson says:


To Whom it may concern,
My name is Mr. Roy Pierson, I will like to make a special order of labels, I want to

know if you can special order them for me if you can below are the sizes and the prints i want on the labels.

Specification of Labels:

Letters to print: ” Kellys Solutions”
Labels Size: 8.5″ x 11″ Full Sheet Label With 1 Vertical Back Slit Labels.
Type: Self-Adhesive.
Shape:Square Corner Rectangle.
Font: Arial Black.
Font style: Bold.
Font size: 17.
Label print: The print have to appear exactly in the middle of the paper.
Color of print: Blue
Application: Applied to white gloss paper self-adhesive.
Quantities: 220,000 Pcs.

Please these will be the quantities and type of labels I will like to order so i want you to get back to me

with the grand total cost include tax & without freight as it will be collected from your store, Also do you

take master or visa card as payment? What are the surcharges on each card? I will be patiently waiting for

the quote attach is my details for invoice.

Mr. Roy Pierson
622 Belvedere Drive
Kokomo, IN 46901

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